Gosh. There has been a lot going on here, so things have been a titch quiet on le blog. I THINK I am starting to settle in more, though. Hopefully this means that I can ease back into the groove of writing each day (here and elsewhere.) Gosh knows the discipline of that makes me feel so much better about the world.
If you follow me on social media, you will know that I have been doing a little series called On My Bench taking in the view from my kitchen window and the things I have been cooking some days.
I am really loving doing this. It’s such a positive focus for each day (perhaps it replaced blogging for a wee while there?!) and I love cooking for my now-bigger family rather than just for Ari and myself.
Here are some of my favourite On My Bench meals so far … (Shall I call them benchies?!)
Leatherjackets baked with butter, soy sauce, tomato, ginger and spring onions + crunchy, herby bintje potatoes + ratatouille + greens + comeback sauce
samosa party + all the sauces!
lamb curry + matar paneer + kachumber + raita (and noodles in a jar for 4-year-old!)
Apart from that I have been trying to get organised and sort out a life in Tasmania. I lived in Melbourne for 35 years so there has been a lot to sort out and much adjusting to do. That said I feel utterly at home here again, as though the trees and the flowers and the birds and the bees are all welcoming me back. It’s a hard to explain feeling, that one of belonging and returning to the place you grew up after a long absence. Hard to explain, but good to experience. That is for sure.
I’ve been picking up old recipe books from the op shops in my travels and those $1 and $2 scores have been inspiring my cooking and helping me to feel more grounded. Focusing on the simple things will do that for you, don’t you think? Especially after a 2020 full of lockdowns and other upsetting scenarios. Let me cosy up to a recipe for ginger cake or homemade tomato sauce and I’m as happy as a lark. Or a goshawk. Did I tell you about the goshawk? One flew right past my window, slowing down to give me a hawky look and then peeling away into the trees. It was quite the exchange and he had the prettiest feathery belly you ever did see. (Have you read H Is For Hawk? So great! It was one of my get-through-broken-hearted-days must read books.)
I’ve also been finding heaps of 70s and 80s decorating books and plenty of retro kitchenware and pretty vintage fabric. It’s an op-shoppers paradise down here. Not a word of a lie.
During the week we visited the beach I spent much of my childhood on. It was pretty special to go there with my own all-grown-up kids. There were only a few divers and fishermen around, and an elderly couple having a picnic. I paddled and Ari swam and the water was much warmer than I thought it would be.
Later I walked up the hill to look at the two shacks that used to belong to our family (the first two on the hill!) They are being beautifully cared for by their new owners and it looks like they are lived in full-time, which is brilliant. (I miss being able to open the door and smell their smell and enjoy their watery views, though! Even after all these years!)
I went to our market yesterday and bought a big bunch of dahlias yesterday, as well as some blackberries, some blackberry syrup (not as good as the one I made last week!) and some locally-grown field tomatoes.
Today we went to a different market and I bought cherry tomatoes, zucchinis and two china dogs to sit on the mantlepiece. They have gorgeous green eyes and are festooned with blooms. I’m hoping to buy a striped green couch to match them soon. I’m all about green things at the moment, actually. It must be because I am surrounded by so much greenery … I just want to fill up the house with even more green to bring the outside in!
The other day Mum and I went over to her friend Sally’s house to drop off a few buckets of greengages that mum had grown. Sally treated us to delicious elderflower cordial and Anzac biscuits and an excellent chat. Her property is so gorgeous and I can’t wait to go and do a cooking workshop with her one day soon. She just did one on bottling summer fruits which looked amazing.
I am missing Rin so much (she is in Melbourne still, locked-down as we speak) but she and her darling fella are so happy there and have moved into a brilliant house over the fence from family. I think I can handle being apart if she is having nice times (which she is!)
My brother has been helping me to set up a veggie garden in the very big, very wild, very slope-d back yard. He’s been building raised beds for me because he is a total bloody legend. Then he’s been rolling them through the back gate and down the hill into place. Ari’s going to paint them and then we’re all going to form a Saturday bucket brigade and lug dirt from the road that runs behind our place to the beds, to fill them up.
I’m going to plant collard greens (after seeing this recipe on my feel good fave Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil) and a bunch of other nourishing and green things (more green!!) I hope it’s not too late to put them in, but the weather has been so mild I am thinking we should be good to go. I bought the collard green seeds plus a bunch of seeds from Southern Harvest and they arrived in a trice. Some are for now and some are for later in the year. I also bought some seeds from Veggie Garden Seeds on Friday night after a couple of glasses of rosé, so those should come this week. Nothing like a bit of sloshed seed-buying, don’t you think?!
Just wait until I show you the view from my garden once I get things sorted. You will love it as much as I do!!
I’m reading Cider With Rosie and it’s bloody gorgeous and I am loving every single word of it. And I’ve been listening to Molly Burch and John Grant and Aldous Harding and Nick Cave and Marlon Williams. And I’ve been watching Blown Away (Netflix), The Wilds (Prime), Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix) and Paddington with my four-year-old housemate.
I was thinking today it’ll be Easter before we know it. I can’t believe how swiftly the year is flying by already. My Nan used to remind me that the older you get, the faster time whizzes by and of course she is 100% RIGHT! V much looking forward to BUNS!
How are you going, peaches? What are you up to? Tell me in the comments and I promise to write back to each and every one.
PS: I have updated my online shop if you fancy anything! Okay if you don’t, though!
Pip’s Comeback Sauce
1 cup of mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of tomato sauce
3 tablespoons of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or similar
1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
a few grinds of black pepper
Mix together and spoon onto anything that needs a kick. Keeps in the fridge for a week or so.
Note: you can swap out the soy sauce for Worcestershire sauce, but we have a vegetarian in the house so we go with soy.